Risk Management

The Profession

Ken Davis, the director of risk management for Nuverra Environmental Solutions, says the industry is getting better at education, but still has room to grow.
By: | August 3, 2015

R&I: What was your first job?

Country club pool monitor, age 15.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

My first insurance-related job was as a claims assistant at AIG. I started off as a workers’ compensation claims assistant then moved into claims adjuster roles, and ultimately ended up handling the Swift Transportation account for the TPA I worked for. After some time, I was asked by Swift to come aboard and become their workers’ comp claims manager. That’s really where the doors to risk management opened up for me.

R8-15p54_TheProfession.inddI worked closely with the director of risk management as well as the VP of risk, litigation and claims. I was also working with the finance department and with other lines of coverage, as well as with insurance-related items including the creation of a captive. My first risk job title was in 2008 at a company called Total Transit, and the rest is history, though I’ve always kept claims as part of my job function.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

I’d say educatiing the next generation of risk professionals. I think through the local chapters of RIMS (I’m president of the Arizona chapter), good education and resources are being provided for risk managers in their communities.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Oddly enough, the answer is the same. Employers, insurers and insurance brokers could be doing a better job of educating risk managers today. As I understand it, in the ’80s and even ’90s, the insurance community was so driven toward education — the breadth of knowledge of the people who are now nearing retirement age is huge.  Now the training you are receiving is coming from places like RIMS and outside resources rather than learning through the companies you work for.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego, close to a decade ago. Why: Location, location, location. San Diego has the infrastructure, hotels, restaurants and everything you need to hold as many risk people as attend.

R&I: How do you grade the insurance industry’s response to the threat of cyber attacks?

I think the insurance industry is trying to do its best to warn risk managers of the potential threats involved, but the trouble is that there is still such a lack of understanding related to cyber risk. I think we still don’t comprehend the true exposure.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

There are so many excellent carriers, it’s too difficult to pick a single one.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

I would say greater than 90 percent of our insurannce is transacted through a broker.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

My thought here is that no matter what, the controversy itself increased transparency and that is an excellent result. As long as I know what I’m paying for and what people are getting out of it, I’m OK with it.

Ken Davis, director of risk management, Nuverra Environmental Solutions

Ken Davis, director of risk management, Nuverra Environmental Solutions

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

I’m very cautious about the economy. There are so many variables that play into it; it’s no longer just about the U.S. economy since our economy is tied into the global status. Today you’ve got the Middle East, Greece, etc. — name the country and name the issue, whether it’s travel, oil, or concerns about hacking into various infastructures.

There are just a number of different factors to acknowlege and be mindful of. Nuverra is not global but is closely tied to oil and gas so these issues touch us every day.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I’ve had many mentors who have helped me develop my skills over the years, but I would point to a woman by the name of Belinda Lopes. Belinda probably had the largest impact on me. Despite being busy with her own career, she was always willing to stop what she was doing and educate me.

For me it’s been critical to my success and one of the reasons I ended up trying to give back to the people that work with me.

If you don’t take the time to do that, what’s the legacy that you’re leaving?

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

My family. I’ve got a wonderful family and two girls that are remarkable and one is graduating from the eighth grade today. Everything that I do in life is for my girls. I am so proud of the young women they are becoming and I am so excited to see their accomplishments in life.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Nick’s Italian in Scottsdale.

R&I: What is the most unusual or interesting places you have ever visited?

Next month, I’m headed to Denmark, Germany and Austria. It will be my first time in Europe. Ask me when I get back!

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Marriage — and skydiving.  Both are life and death activities.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

I used to work at a fire and ambulance company. So I would say our first responders. They put their lives on the line every single day.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I love looking at a situation, evaluating the risk, and working with a team to evaluate the issues. It’s very rewarding to see how you were able to mitigate or completely avoid an exposure.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

My kids think that I pretend to be a lawyer and a doctor.

R&I: Why a doctor?

Just because dealing with workers’ compensation, there are so many medical issues.

R&I: And why a lawyer?

Dealing so much with litigation and mediation and because of some of the lingo I’ve picked up dealing with attorneys all the time … or maybe because I like to argue.

Janet Aschkenasy is a freelance financial writer based in New York. She can be reached at [email protected].

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